|“||Fear always works! And I'll dart every predator in Zootopia to keep it that way! (chuckles evilly) Bye-bye, bunny.||„|
|~ Bellwether's most famous quote, after attempting to kill Judy and the same line that got her arrested.
Dawn Bellwether (also formerly known as Assistant Mayor Bellwether and Mayor Bellwether, and simply known by her surname Bellwether) is the main antagonist of Disney's 55th full-length animated feature film Zootopia (or Zootropolis in European regions). She is the former friend-turned-arch-nemesis of Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde.
She was the sweet and cute assistant mayor of Zootopia, turned mayor of Zootopia until she eventually revealed to be a powerful criminal mastermind who attempted to create a new order where prey animals dominate the predators. Being repeatedly neglected her whole life, Bellwether developed a hatred towards predators and planned to make Zootopia a place where prey reign supreme and predators are labeled as savages. She used used toxic flowers known as "night howlers" to create a chemical drug, which turned predators into wild savages.
She was voiced by Jenny Slate, who also played Zoe in Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, Harley Quinn in The LEGO Batman Movie, Mona Lisa Saperstein in Parks and Recreation, and Cahu in Elena of Avalor, and was dubbed by Piret Krumm in Estonian.
|“||We're on the same team, Judy! Underestimated, under-appreciated. Aren't you sick of it? Predators—they may be strong and loud, but prey out number predators ten to one. Think of it; 90% of the population, united against a common enemy. We'll be unstoppable.||„|
|~ Bellwether's speech to Judy after the former revealed her true nature.|
At first glance, Bellwether appears as a meek, shy, kind, and energetic, though overworked sheep, and identified herself as Judy's friend in City Hall. She is eager to help, and remarks she is little more than a secretary to Mayor Leodore Lionheart, who gives all his work to her and seems to overlook her except as an extension of himself and never really talks to her unless he is taking his stress out on here.
However, this is nothing more than a mere façade she made up to hide her true nature as a vindictive, callous, selfish, heartless, racist, arrogant, two-faced, sociopathic, sinister, uncaring, vile, and cruel individual who wants to rid all of Zootopia of it's predatory citizens so that prey citizens will be the dominant inhabitants and thus abolish the namesake of Zootopia. Bellwether is deeply prejudiced against all carnivores and seems to view them as dangerous and unintelligent. She is perfectly willing to kill anyone who refuses to agree with her in this but equally willing to let prey animals get injured or killed, to turn the populace against the predator minority. She has also shown a certain amount of sadism, as she laughed wickedly when the fox Nick "attacked" the rabbit heroine Judy, despite her apparent respect for Judy's dedication to the city.
Bellwether is highly intelligent and manipulative, as shown when she secretly arranged Judy to expose Lionheart's illegal imprisonment of drugged and (therefore) feral predators, in addition to spreading rumors that the predators have gone savage through "natural instinct". Bellwether does prove to be a show-off once her true colors were revealed, arrogantly bragging about her plan before Judy and Nick, which proved to be her downfall when Judy revealed this confession to the police. This also shows Bellwether truly cares about no one but herself, and is truly a hateful hypocrite. Even as assistant mayor she believed that being mayor was all about being appreciated and doing anything she wants, showing no real desire to serve her own people. Essentially, Bellwether just cared for the appreciated part and not the responsibility part. This was proved when she is willing to let other people get killed or injured by predators she darted with, and attempted to murder her close friend by leaving her in a pit to get devoured by a fox she inflicted.
In the end, Bellwether's egoism and prejudice of predators proved to be her downfall as she was too overconfident not to be hoodwinked by Nick, which led to her incarceration. Now Zootopia bans Bellwether forever because of her heinous crimes on predators, thus abolishing all respect and appreciation the city had for her and allowing predators and prey to coexist back together again.
Bellwether is first seen during Judy's induction into the Zootopia Police Department, where she stands alongside Lionheart and is tasked with badging Hopps. Bellwether shows great pride in Zootopia's first rabbit officer, proclaiming that it is a momentous day for "little guys", referring to prey. Before her words can run further, Lionheart rather rudely removes Bellwether from Judy and subsequently blocks her from the flashing cameras of the press.
Following Judy's first day as an officer, Emmitt Otterton goes missing, forcing his distraught wife to seek help. Bellwether is present when Judy volunteers to find Emmitt against Chief Bogo's orders. Just before Chief Bogo could fire Judy for her insubordination, Bellwether sends Lionheart a knowing text to congratulate him on the growing success of the Mammal Inclusion Initiative, referring to Judy's newfound role as a detective to a major case. Realizing that he would be in big trouble if Lionheart learns about Judy being taken off the case, Bogo reluctantly allows Judy 48 hours to solve the case, on the condition that she will resign if she fails. Bellwether then speaks to Judy, telling her that she always has an ally at City Hall, should she need any important favors.
Later on, Bellwether returns to City Hall, where she is seen struggling for Lionheart's attention, needing him to discuss various matters regarding the city. Lionheart, seeming more aggressive than usual, coldly orders Bellwether to take care of the matters herself, and to cancel his afternoon, as he needs to run out for confidential matters. Feeling defeated and exhausted, Bellwether sadly gathers the paperwork to begin her assignments, before receiving a surprise visit from Judy and her accomplice, Nick Wilde. Judy explains that she needs access to the city's traffic cameras, which Bellwether obliges to in her "office", which is the boiler room. While doing so, Bellwether laments to Judy and Nick, expressing her excitement in doing something of importance, to which Judy replies with confusion, as she believes the title of "Assistant Mayor" to be rather major. Bellwether merely sees it as being a "glorified secretary", and voices her suspicion that Lionheart may have selected her simply for the sake of winning the sheep vote. Just then, Lionheart pages Bellwether, scolding her for failing to cancel his afternoon. Bellwether hurriedly rushes to finish this assignment, leaving Judy and Nick with her computer.
Using the traffic cameras, Judy and Nick can find an asylum where fifteen predatory mammals (including Emmitt himself) have been illegally imprisoned by wolf mercenaries and have mysteriously gone savage. The imprisonment was at the hands of Mayor Lionheart and the asylum's staff, who are desperately trying to determine the cause behind the mysterious outbreak and find a cure for it to no avail, keeping the entire situation confidential to prevent a citywide panic, and by extension, the loss of Lionheart's position. With this evidence recorded through her phone, Judy alerts Chief Bogo, and Lionheart and the staff are arrested for their not-so-legal activities. With Lionheart finally removed from office, Bellwether becomes the new Mayor of Zootopia (much to her delight), but the savage predators remain detained, as no one has figured out the cause behind their strange behavior.
Meanwhile, Judy is hailed a hero, and a press conference on the savage predators is held at the ZPD. Bellwether is present in the conference, and to her advantage, Judy accidentally calls out predators as naturally savage, with potential to revert to their original bloodthirsty natures; disturbing the press and causing a citywide panic. This event also causes a disgusted Nick (being a predator himself) to leave Judy, declining to join the ZPD as her partner. Following these events, Bellwether summons Judy to her office and, alongside Chief Bogo, offers her to be the public face of the Zootopia Police Department, as prey mammals look to her as a hero for uncovering the "truth" about predators. However, Judy denies, feeling she's failed the city by tearing it apart instead of making it a better place and officially resigns from the ZPD.
Later, however, Judy discovers that unique flowers are known as "Night howlers" are the cause of the predators' strange behavior—not instinct—and rushes back to the city to reveal the truth. After reconciling with Nick, Judy (with the help from Mr. Big) interrogates Duke Weaselton, who admits that he stole a bunch of night howlers to sell to a ram named Doug, who is using the flowers to produce a highly-potent serum which he has been exposing to predators via paintball-like pellets fired by an air-powered sniper gun. With this information, Judy and Nick steal Doug's lab-converted subway car and race to the ZPD with the evidence. Two of Doug's assistants (Woolter and Jesse) pursue the two, and though they are defeated, the train is derailed and destroyed. However, Nick successfully retrieves a case containing Doug's dart gun and the serum pellets. As Nick and Judy cut through the Zootopia Natural History Museum to get to the ZPD, Bellwether suddenly arrives on the scene (after being warned by Doug, Woolter & Jesse about what happened).
She politely asks for the gun case, presenting herself as being proud of Judy's success, but when Judy questions how Bellwether knew of their whereabouts, Judy and Nick find out Bellwether is the cause of the savage attacks and suffering to all predators in Zootopia, the ploy is broken, and Bellwether reveals her true colors by sending a trio of tough rams to capture the pair. Judy gets injured while trying to escape, and she and Nick are eventually knocked into a pit-like exhibit by one of the rams. Though Bellwether attempted to have Judy join her side, she instead shoots Nick with the serum gun to turn him savage so that he would kill Judy, and she calls the ZPD over to the scene to make it look like another savage outbreak. Judy argues with Bellwether as she reveals her plan to demonizing predators so that the entire prey population will take control of Zootopia, and Bellwether herself will remain in power.
However, when it seems that prey and predator would be divided forever, the entire "savage fox" act turns out to be a ruse planned by both Judy and Nick, who reveal that they replaced the serum pellets in Bellwether's gun with blueberries in order to trick Bellwether into revealing her plan. Despite being dumbfounded by this turn of events, Bellwether angrily threatens to set both Nick and Judy up for her crimes just like she did to Lionheart, claiming that it is "her word against theirs". However, Judy reveals that she used her voice recorder to record Bellwether's confession, and plays the tape, telling her its "her words against her's", completely outsmarted much to Bellwether and her accomplices' shock. Just as Bellwether fearfully attempted to get away, Chief Bogo and several other ZPD officers prey and predator reunited have already arrived and heard the whole thing.
Bellwether looks down and cries in defeat as Bogo and the other officers glare at her before surrendering off the screen.
With her plot now exposed to the public, Bellwether and her henchmen are arrested and sent to prison for life for their crimes. An antidote is then made to nullify the effects of Doug's drug to turn the savage predators back to their normal states. During the credits, Bellwether is last seen angrily watching a live stream of Gazelle's concert performance while the other inmates enjoy the performance, much to her annoyance.
- Judy Hopps - Arch-Nemesis, Former Friend, and Attempted Victim
- Nick Wilde - Secondary Arch-Nemesis, Former Ally, and Attempted Victim
- Mayor Lionheart - Former Boss and Framed Victim
- Chief Bogo- Former Ally
- Benjamin Clawhauser
- Mrs. Otterton
- Emmitt Otterton - Former-Brainwashed Victim
- Renato Manchas - Former-Brainwashed Victim
- Barry DiCaprio - Former-Brainwashed Victim
- Stephanie Stalkinew - Former-Brainwashed Victim
- Savaged Predators - Former-Brainwashed Victims
- Mr. Big
- Predatory Citizens of Zootopia
- Zootopia Police Department
- Everyone - Former Friends and People
- Her first name "Dawn" is briefly mentioned by the snow leopard newscaster when announced that Bellwether was the one behind the night howlers and was arrested for the crime.
- However, in the credits, she was credited as "Bellwether".
- The term "bellwether" refers to a sheep that leads a herd. This sheep is typically marked through the use of a bell, hence the "bell" in Bellwether. Fittingly, Bellwether is the leader of a team of sheep: Doug, Woolter, Jesse and at least three other rams. Oddly, "wether" is the term used for a castrated male sheep bred only for meat.
- Despite being the main antagonist of the film, an increasing group of fans sympathizes with the character, mainly because of her initial shy nature and the feeling that Mayor Lionheart undervalued her. Despite this, her sadism, using racism to target predators and how she planned to hold Zootopia under fear, all outweigh Lionheart's horrendous treatment of her.
- Bellwether's nature as the main antagonist of Zootopia is foreshadowed by the fact that she has Doug's phone number as a sticky note on her phone.
- She is one of the few Disney Villains who is a surprise villain, preceded by Hans from Frozen, King Candy from Wreck-it-Ralph, and Stromboli from Pinocchio.
- Catherine Keener, Kristen Wiig, Elizabeth Banks, Rose Byrne, Morena Baccarin, Kaitlin Olson, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jessica Chastain, Courteney Cox, Jessica Alba, Frances McDormand, Vera Farmiga, Anne Hathaway, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Elizabeth Olson, Brie Larson, Judy Greer, and Margot Robbie were considered for the role of Dawn Bellwether before Jenny Slate was cast.
- The fact that her Estonian dubber was Piret Krumm is ironic, because Piret also dubbed Sadness in Inside Out, who is a heroic character.
- Bellwether serves as a dark reflection and parallel to Judy Hopps as both of them were undervalued by their bosses for being weak prey animals and are determined to become more successful in their hard efforts. However, while Judy’s motivation for being a cop is from her genuine desire to help both predators and prey to make the world a better place, Bellwether only cared for the recognition and political power and doesn’t care who she has to hurt with her biases in order to succeed her goals. If Judy had been too consumed with her bias statements about predators instead of making things right from her mistakes, she would’ve ended up like Bellwether, who despised the idea that predators and prey can co-exist peacefully together.
- The way that Judy and Nick exposed Bellwether to the ZPD is similar to how Mike and Sulley exposed Mr. Waternoose to the CDA in Monsters Inc., as both of them were immediately arrested and lost their respect from the public. However, Waternoose had more alturistic goals since he genuinely cared for his company, ultimatley going mad to save it and stop the energy crisis, while Bellwether went mad for selfish reasons, such as racism.
- Bellwether’s downfall was possible primarily because of the night howler flowers. If Judy had never discovered about the latters which parallels the warnings from Mr. Otterton and Manchas (which they were mistaken to be wolves), her true nature may have never come to light.